1. We Are the Champions
The album starts off with our dear friend Gavin De Graw singing Freddie's famous anthem. This track possesses ALL the stereotypical motifs of BAD musical interpretation. With De Graw's forced embellishments and arhythmic repetion of words and syllables, I was ready to pop the CD into the microwave and watch the sparks fly. Being open minded as I am though, I continued to listen.
2. Tie Your Mother Down
This version of TYMD was a faithful cover of the original by the group Shinedown. I was amazed at how their lead singer, Brent Smith sang, grunted, and made ad lib exclamations almost exactly how Freddie did. You may note however, he pronounces "sniping" like "snippin'."
3. Bohemian Rhapsody
The "flash in the pan" celebrity Constantine from American Idol and the cast of the musical "We Will Rock You" work together to create a version of BoRhap almost completely faithful to the original. Constantine's voice is perfectly suited for the job, he makes the same transitions from falsetto to head voice within the verse as Freddie did, capturing and recreating that drama we have come to know and love. The timbre of his voice is slightly different than Freddie's, more ethereal, which is a nice effect.
The operetic bit was not altogether like the original. The harmonies were greatly simplified, as they are in the musical. Not that I don't appreciate major triad inversions and the like, but it lacks the chromatic feel that essentially is Freddie. I understand why they did this; they wanted to do it in one take instead of spending 80+ hours, as were spent on the original.
The rock section is well-performed. Not with as much bite as Fred, of course, but still nicely done.
4. Stone Cold Crazy
This track was much like the original, only played at about half the speed. Eleven with Joshua Homme recorded rather apethetic sounding cover. The music is there, the melody is there, but it lacks interpretation in my opinion. It is hard for me to connect "Crazy" with the tired sounding vocals and the lethargic speed. A better name for this track would be simply, "Stoned."
5. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy
Jason Mraz, one of many wonderfully light- sounding tenors on this album does justice to this song. With only slightly different piano orchestration, and self-multitracked background vocals, this track is like a delightful memory of an age gone by.
6. Under Pressure
British singer Joss Stone sings lead vocals and background multitracks for this song. Although different than the original, this track proves that a faithful recreation is not essential to a good interpretation. Ms. Stone sings with such feeling (as most soul singers do) that I believe, in terms of vocals, it surpasses the original. It sounds like she really means what she is saying, and truly cares for the "people on the streets." I am only disappointed that she did not attempt to hit Freddie's "WHYYY" up to the soprano A, which is well within her range.
7. Who Wants to Live Forever
Recorded by the band Breaking Benjamin, this is the first song to be transposed from the original key; it's taken down a whole 4 semitones. The vocals lack emotion for much of the verses; a little more emotion being added for the bridge. A few vocal distortions seem to have been added as an afterthought to make the vocals more interesting. The chords sound unusual when orchestrated for rhythm guitar, but overall well-adapted.
8. Bicycle Race
I never thought a cover of a song could include NONE of the same chords (if you can call them that) as the original. Then I heard Bicycle Race by "be your own PET," an unsigned garage rock band. I could talk about minor 6ths, and antiphonal harmonies, but it would only get ridiculous. And I must say that the vomiting noises during the chorus of bicycle bells (the bells were stolen from the original track)
Zoroaster the Grand and Magnificent